What Do Dentists Do to Cavities?

If you’ve ever experienced a cavity, you know how incredibly painful it can be. The discomfort can range from a slight toothache to unbearable pain, impacting your ability to eat, drink, and even concentrate on daily tasks. The good news is that dentists specialize in treating these dental woes, offering procedures that not only relieve pain but also restore the health and functionality of your teeth.

But what do dentists do to cavities exactly? Let’s explore the process, from diagnosis to treatment options. Understanding these processes can make the whole experience less intimidating and more manageable!

What is a Cavity?

A dental cavity is a hole that develops in the tooth due to decay. The decay process involves the gradual breakdown of tooth enamel, often leading to pain and other complications if not treated timely.

Cavities can result from multiple factors. Poor oral hygiene, diet rich in sugary foods, and lack of fluoride are some common causes. Certain medical conditions and medications can also elevate the risk of developing cavities.

The Initial Examination

Dentists generally diagnose cavities by performing a visual examination and taking dental X-rays. This comprehensive approach enables them to spot cavities even in their early stages.

The combination of visual examination and X-rays ensures that cavities, even those hidden between teeth or under old fillings, are not missed. Early detection facilitates more straightforward treatments and better outcomes.

Types of Dental Procedures for Treating Cavities


Dental fillings are perhaps the most common way dentists treat cavities. After removing the decayed part, a filling material is applied to restore the tooth’s structure and function.

Various filling materials are available such as amalgam or composite resin. The choice depends on factors like the cavity’s location, patient preferences, and cost considerations. Don’t worry – every type of filling material is designed to solve the problem, so there’s no risk of using the “wrong” material!

Getting fillings begins with numbing the affected area using local anesthesia. Then the dentist works to remove the decay. Once it’s cleaned out, they fill the cavity with the chosen material. Finally, the filling is polished for a natural appearance and feel. This helps avoid a strange feeling in your mouth due to the new material used in the filling.

Root Canal Treatment

A root canal treatment becomes necessary when the cavity affects the tooth’s pulp or nerve. In this procedure, the damaged pulp is removed, and the area is disinfected and sealed. Root canals are often needed for deep cavities that have reached the pulp or caused an infection, presenting symptoms like acute pain or swelling.

The procedure, usually carried out under local anesthesia, can take one or more visits to complete. After the pulp chamber is cleaned and sealed, a crown may be placed to restore the tooth’s structure.


A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap placed over a tooth to restore its shape, size, and strength. It’s typically used when a cavity is too large for a filling. Crowns are generally used for extensively decayed or weakened teeth. They can also be employed after a root canal treatment to provide added strength and durability.

Various materials like porcelain, resin, or metals can be used for crowns. The tooth is prepared by removing decay and shaping it to fit the crown, which is then cemented in place.


Sometimes, the tooth is so extensively decayed that it cannot be saved and needs to be extracted. The tooth is removed under anesthesia. Depending on the complexity, it may require a simple pull or a more involved surgical procedure.

Post-extraction, the patient needs to follow specific care guidelines to avoid complications, such as infection or dry socket.

Prevention Over Cure

Regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and limiting sugary foods are basic preventive measures. Using dental sealants can also offer added protection.

Routine dental visits enable early detection of cavities, making the treatment simpler and more effective.

Proper dental hygiene practices are the cornerstone in the prevention of cavities. This involves regular brushing, flossing, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash.

What to Expect After Receiving Treatment for a Cavity

Post-treatment, patients may experience mild discomfort or sensitivity, which usually subsides after a few days.

Follow-up visits are essential to ensure that the treated areas are healing well and that no new cavities are developing. For long-term maintenance, good oral hygiene and regular dentist visits are crucial. You may receive specialized care plans following your cavity treatment depending on the type of treatment you received. It’s important to pay close attention to your dentist’s recommendations to avoid issues that might impact how effective the treatment will be!

Don’t Ignore a Cavity!

Ignoring cavities can lead to severe dental problems, including loss of teeth, and contribute to systemic health issues. Now that you have a better understanding of what dentists do to cavities, hopefully you know how positive the experience is to schedule an appointment when you think you have cavities!

Good oral hygiene is not just about avoiding or treating cavities. It’s a vital part of your overall health. A consistent oral hygiene routine, coupled with regular dental check-ups, can go a long way in maintaining a healthy mouth and a happy smile.

Contact Walbridge Dental

Have you been eating food that’s likely to damage your teeth? We can help! The professionals at Walbridge Dental provide complete family dental care to families in the Millbury community. Contact us online to set up an appointment now or call us at 419-836-1033.

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